Netflix is testing a programmed linear content channel in France, Variety reported. The channel, called Netflix Direct, will be available to Netflix streaming subscribers and will provide content from its existing streaming library in a linear format, much like cable and broadcast TV stations do.
“Maybe you’re not in the mood to decide, or you’re new and finding your way around, or you just want to be surprised by something new and different,” Netflix said in a statement announcing the new service. It chose France for the launch of Netflix Direct because traditional TV is “hugely popular” there, and people “just want a ‘lean back’ experience where they don’t have to choose shows,” the company said.
Netflix Direct rolled out in some parts of France November 5th, and will expand to more parts of the country next month. According to Variety, Netflix has about 9 million subscribers in France.
Netflix has tested other alternatives to its standard streaming offerings, launching a “Shuffle” button in August to allow users to randomly scroll through recommended viewing options. With Netflix Direct, all viewers on the channel will be watching the same programming at the same time.
The streaming giant saw a sharp increase in its business at the start of the coronavirus pandemic; in the first two quarters of 2020 it added 26 million subscribers— nearly as many as it added for all of 2019.